Tag Archives: commercial motor vehicle

Your Guide To Creating A Proper Collision Procedures Plan

If you examine Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) numbers, you’ll see that the average commercial motor vehicle (CMV) accident resulting in property damaged came in around $18,000.

If there was an injury involved? Expect that number to jump to $331,000.

Also bear in mind that neither of these numbers take into account potential loss to reputation, damage to materials, insurance costs and other costs associated with the crash.

The fact is, accident costs are on the rise, and your fleet needs to have a plan in place to handle the situation should an accident occur.

Consider that a serious collision could completely sink a small business and it isn’t hard to understand why having adequate procedures in place could be the life or death of a business.

While you may be using technology, such as video-based solutions, that’s great, but you’re going to need more than just a video feed, you’ll need a plan.

Contact and Information Exchange
Your plan should include a place where your truck driver immediately pull over and assess the situation. If there are injuries, major damage, or a liquid spill, the first thing in the procedure should be for the truck driver contact the authorities.

Next, the trucker should contact dispatch and alert them of the situation. Everything must be properly documented, from the location to the time, date and circumstances of the collision. It is important that crucial aspects of what happened be recorded while they are still fresh in the mind.

It’s also important that your truck driver not discuss the incident with anyone at the scene outside law enforcement or emergency personnel, and people directly involved with the crash.

Insurance Notification
In this case it’s likely going to be someone in the back office who handles the insurance claim, but this is an important part of the process as they will want to begin their investigation immediately.

The insurance company themselves will decide whether to send an investigator or adjustor out to the scene. Don’t be surprised that – if called – the investigator may want to speak to other people within the organization, such as the truck driver’s manager or perhaps the dispatcher who was on duty when the accident occurred.

Ensuring your insurance company is quickly notified and that accurate data is sent to them will be vital in making sure your claim comes through clean and without error.

Handling Personnel
Depending on the situation, you may need to send additional personnel to the scene. Is there a load currently out there that will need to be picked up?

Furthermore, do you want to send a supervisor to the scene? Of course, you will be instructing the truck driver, but perhaps you want someone to help gather witnesses or corroborate accounts, or maybe survey the scene for other evidence or bits of information.

An important tip, whether for the truck driver or the person you send to the scene, is to create a “Witness Checklist” where they can document everything from direction on skid marks to traffic signs and road conditions.

Managing Disruption
The key to figuring your way through situations like these is to learn how to properly manage disruptions that may come as a result of the accident.

These include disruptions on the financial side due to increased costs, disruption in the shop due to a potentially very large repair coming in, disruption to the internal supply chain and the list goes on and on.

If you can manage it all with little to no disruption, you’ve developed a great network and are likely to get yourself through an accident crisis with little to no problem.

As long as you keep all of these tips in place, you’ll be ready for anything!

Is The FA-4 Oil Type Promise Coming True for commercial motor vehicle ?

What’s the FA-4 engine oil type? Let’s go through a little history lesson before we talk about how the new FA-4 spec engine oil is faring during use on the market.

History of a New Oil Spec

For many years, oil companies had been doing extensive testing of what are called FA-4 and CK-4 engine oils for large commercial motor vehicle (CMV) use. The new oils were to be developed through the American Petroleum Institute’s (API) Proposed Category (PC) 11 process.

By itself, API’s PC process was designed to help create new specs for oil-service category information. These are the categories and processes initially designed to replace the API CJ-4 oil spec designations.

The new category, PC 11, was split into two separate parts (FA-4 and CK-4) so that the new designations could match the technology of the day. This is what OEMS were using, and it was time for industry standards to keep up.

So, what were these two new oil categories all about? CK-4 refers to higher-viscosity grades that may be similar to what is currently being used in older engines. FA-4 oil types are of the lower-viscosity kind and were designed to help improve overall fuel savings in newer engines beginning this year.

CK-4 oils themselves still had place because they were designed to replace spec CJ-4 oil. Even better, CK-4 oils would be back-serviceable across channels, giving them flexibility to replace older spec oils on applicable CMVs with no problem.

In addition to being the next-level-evolution of a product that has served for generations, both CK-4 and FA-4 oils offered performance improvements across the board.

Not only could these new products offer better fuel saving and viscosity upgrades, but they also improved resistance to things like oxidation and shear or aeration issues. The oils themselves were designed to help better protect the engines of the future.

Over time, these improvements are designed to offer not only greater across-the-board CMV performance enhancements, but they also better protect the hardware and could play a part in reducing vehicle downtime.

Put Simply, A Better Product

From a motor carrier’s perspective, these new oil products offered themselves as a new way to offer – albeit small – savings on both fuel cost and hardware maintenance front.

What fleets can take comfort from is that, without them having to really do a thing, they will see these new products positively impact their operations and, potentially, their bottom line, even if these improvements are incremental in nature.

Fleets initially could look to a Confidence Report. This report, put together by the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE) had some pretty good things to say about the switch, and went further to give full credence to the benefits.

Average over-the-road (OTR) fleets can expect a savings in the range of 0.5% to 1.5% by switching from the CJ-4 to CK-4 oil spec. Even greater savings were found at the higher end of FA-4 oil options.

Indeed, while CK-4 was designed to meet the needs of an engine from an older or newer generation, low viscosity FA-4 oil was designed exclusively for advanced new engines capable of offering even greater fuel economy potential.

On top of the 0.5% to 1.5% already promised by the switch to these new designations, FA-4 adds another 0.4% to 0.7% of fuel savings. For some CMV and engine manufacturers, this represented a boost of over 2% in overall fuel savings.

When combined with other efforts, motor carriers could see fuel savings boosts anywhere in the range of 2% to 5% or beyond! Quite honestly, there is potential here not just for OTR runners, but for regional haulers municipalities, private outfits and more.

The fact is this, operating with a new oil that is – put simply – a better offering than the one before it, is definitely a good thing. The problem back then was that there was no real way to verify that the information gleaned within the NACFE system was accurate.

Fortunately, that was back then, and we are here now, in 2017, right in the midst of a total rollout. So, how’s it going? With these oils now in complete production, it’s time to see if there’s some proof in this oil pudding.

The FA-4 Rollout Update

The FA-4 rollout was designed in concert with engine manufacturers to ensure they got the most out of their new chemistry. Still, that doesn’t mean there haven’t been speed bumps along the way.

As one example, not all FA-4 spec oils have been confirmed to be back-serviceable on older model engines not quite designed to take advantage of the new chemistry.

In the beginning, the rollout was marred by a communication problem between both the OEMs and those creating the new designations, specifically over the type and makeup of a new designation system.

Fortunately, heavy-duty engine makers and those responsible for the new designations were able to come up with a new system that meets everyone’s needs. Let’s take a closer look into the system itself and how it has ensured that the full benefits of a switch to FA-4 can be really felt, fleet-wide.

Still Lots of Research

As with any new bureaucratic roll-out or rule, this is another that has taken some time. Of course, these new fuels were to be ready by 2017, which is mean they are currently in production and distribution, even as they undergo further research and testing.

And in good news for those producing and using the new FA-4 spec oil, there is plenty of research to already definitively state with a pretty high degree of certainty that fleets can expect to see a real and marked improvement in their CMV fuel economy standard when they switch to the more advanced FA-4 fuel spec.

While the vast majority of the nation’s fleets are using the new CK-4 variant, if for nothing else than simply for its backwards-compatible nature. But for those intrepid fleets looking to make a real dent in their fuel economy while embracing a new standard, FA-4 looks like it may live up to its promise of better fuel efficiency, improved engine performance and longer hardware life-cycles.

Research to Back It Up

One example of a piece of third-party research confirmed the findings of earlier research, leading to a full embrace within the marketplace.

The fact is, in the end every motor carrier has to complete their own cost-to-benefit analysis on whether or not the switch would be of benefit to them in the long-term. One consideration could be the higher cost of an oil that is new to the market.

Other fleets may simply wait for their next round of vehicle or other equipment upgrades to make the switch, since it is highly likely that any upgrades would want to be made at the same time, in order to prevent as much downtime as possible and get every upgrade and accessory installed the one time your CMV is sitting idle in the shop.

The last thing you need is multiple jobs done when it could all have been done at once.  This is especially considering each manufacturer of heavy-duty engines for CMVs issues their own application approvals. This is also an advantageous way to handle service recommendations or OEM recalls or special offers regarding new upgrade options for the vehicle in question.

According to a statement released by Philips 66 commercial products manager, the new FA-4 oils – while critical to the advancement the industry – are still seeing their full-on adoption happen at a much more modest pace.

“Early adopters are experimenting, but broader sales will take several more years to develop until there is more equipment that requires this advanced formulation,” he recently stated when asked at an industry function how long before we see complete adoption.

It’s also important to note that fleets are faced with an oil mandate. The switch here is optional, but recommended. Rommel Atienza, commercial brand manager for Chevron echoed similar sentiments at a separate event.

“Currently, most OEMs still factory-fill with API CK-4 oils — mainly SAE 10W-30 — but we anticipate that changing as OEMs, [lubricant] marketers, and customers become more educated on the benefits of API FA-4 oils. For mixed fleets, API CK-4 still seems to be the best fit,” he explained.

“As with all major technology upgrades and changes,” he adds, “we do expect this to be a slow rollout and that we will see the adoption rate rise over time with the technology maturing in the marketplace.”

Apparently, everyone is on the same pate. Per Dan Arcy, global OEM technical manager for Shell recently stated that they, “are receiving lots of inquiries on availability and compatibility, but due to the fact that many of the new engines that allow the specification have not yet even reached their first drain, it is hard to guess where fleets will be going.”

In the end, FA-4 oils will likely come to dominate the market, if for nothing else than longer shelf life and better across-the-board performance indicators.

As engine manufacturers design new engines specifically for this new oil spec, 2017 and beyond will see a slew of new CMVs set up specifically to offer up the rich rewards promised by FA-4.

What Are Trucking Industry Employers Looking For?

You’ve heard plenty about the truck driver shortage. And yes, it is still ongoing. This means that there are jobs out there for anyone looking for a fun, sable and potentially lucrative career in trucking. But do you know what to look for?

As a professional truck driver, you would be the face of your company. This means that trucking companies are going to look for someone who fits with their company’s image when they are hiring. They also look for candidates who are qualified based on specific federal regulations and trucking company policies.

What Are the Regulations?

Specifically, Parts 383 and 391 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) specifically address truck driver qualification and disqualification.  According to section 391.11 of the FMCSRs, you must pass a physical exam, be in possession of a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL) and be able to pass a road test.

The fleet that hires you will be required to maintain a driver qualification file on you. The regulations surrounding how the file is to be maintained, from drivers’ logs to drug and alcohol testing, can be found in section 391.51 of the FMCSRs.

Once you become a CDL holder, certain offenses can disqualify you from operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), whether they are committed in the CMV itself or in a passenger vehicle. They could include anything from reckless driving to drug and alcohol offenses.

What Are the Job Qualifications?

When a fleet recruiter is looking for a truck driver, they aren’t looking for just anyone. There is a certain amount of responsibility that comes with operating a Class 8 big rig.

When a recruiter is looking for someone, they generally look for the following:

  • A general knowledge of the types of vehicles used in the trucking industry;
  • A basic understanding of different vehicle systems and components;
  • A cursory understanding of the paperwork and regulatory requirements required in trucking;
  • The ability to safely operate a CMV;
  • A basic understanding of how to handle cargo, and;
  • A basic understanding of the techniques and skills associated with operating a CMV.

Though not as critical, but just as important, an employer is looking for someone who has a positive attitude and shows an active interest in the job. They want someone who is mature, enthusiastic and not quick to shoot from the hip. After all, safety is about more than just CSA scores.

What is the Company Policy?

All motor carriers operate under federal and state regulation, but they also have their own specific company policies that operators must follow. Some of these policies may vary from carrier to carrier, but always remember that you must operate your vehicle both safely and legally.

It is illegal for an employer to compel you to operate in such a way that would violate federal, state or local laws or regulations.

When considering what to look for in a trucking company policy, keep the following things in mind:

  • Work hours;
  • Pay;
  • Benefits;
  • Safety rules;
  • Inspection and maintenance requirements;
  • Road trip rules, and;
  • Customer relations.

Can I Advance?

There are always opportunities for advancement in the trucking industry. Experience plays a big part in the hiring process, but as you put in both time and a safe driving record, opportunities make themselves apparent.

Completing a full truck driver education program is the first step in reaching your truck driving career goals. Many an experienced truck driver will tell you their first job was in the yard and not in the cab. Don’t be afraid to start at the bottom as you work your way to the top.

Always be the first to put your best foot forward, show enthusiasm and strive to do a good job, and a career in trucking may be just what you’re looking for.

An Overview Of Commercial Motor Vehicle Control Systems – Part III

Welcome to Part III in our series An Overview of Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) Control Systems. We’re glad you could make it for this final installment in the series. We’ve covered a lot of ground so far, from engine controls to steering and braking systems.

In Part II of our series we opened the door on the various types of transmissions used on CMVs. The fact is, most CMVs will require knowledge of a manual system. Although newer transmission types are becoming increasingly popular, you will need to know how manual clutch systems work.

Once we complete our transmission section with clutch control, we will round out the series by covering secondary vehicle control systems. It’s time to dive in!

The Clutch Pedal

Sure, we could have put this at the very beginning of this series with the brake and accelerator pedals, but there is a bit more to a big rig clutch pedal. The clutch pedal is used to engage and disengage from the gears, and there are four basic positions of the clutch pedal.

They are as follows:

  • Engaged: When your foot is not pressing on the clutch pedal and it is fully released, this is considered engaged. This means the engine and drivetrain are connected and the vehicle is in gear.
  • Free play: Free play refers to the amount of movement possible without engaging or disengaging the clutch. In order to prevent premature clutch wear, free play is necessary.
  • Disengaged: When the clutch pedal is depressed around three to eight inches, it is considered disengaged. This means the engine and drivetrain are separated. In order to start the engine or shift the gears, the clutch must be disengaged.
  • Clutch brake: When it is disengaged, a CMV transmission will simply spin. Because of this, you can use the clutch brake to prevent it from turning. You will utilize this technique while at a stop. When you depress the clutch pedal to the floor, the clutch brake will then engage. It will bring the transmission to a stop and you will be able to shift into the desired gear.

Learning how to skillfully shift a big-rig truck is essential to your truck driving career. These machines shift nothing like the manual shifting function on a passenger vehicle, so additional training and technique is crucial to their successful operation.

Now that we have finished with all of the primary vehicle control systems, it’s time to move on to the secondary systems.

Secondary Vehicle Control Systems

Although these systems are called “secondary,” they are no less important. Secondary controls play a crucial role in helping you safely operate the CMV. Some will be similar to secondary controls in your car, while others will be quite different. While they differ in size and location from vehicle to vehicle, secondary control systems will generally fall into one of these four major categories:

  • Seeing: These control systems relate to how well you can peer ahead as you are operating the CMV. They generally include such components as:
    • Lights;
    • Remote mirrors;
    • Mirror heaters;
    • Windshield washers and wipers;

  • Communication. These control systems govern how well you are able to communicate with others on the road. They generally include such components as:
    • Horns;
    • Lights;
      • Turn signals;
      • Four-way flashers;
      • High beams;
      • Fog lamps;
      • Brake lights;
  • Comfort controls: Comfort controls provide the operator with the means to alter the interior climate of the cab and adjust temperature controls. They generally include:
    • The heater;
    • Air conditioner;
    • Air vents;
    • Steering wheel adjuster;
    • Seat position and adjuster.
  • Driver safety: Driver safety controls round out the safety mechanisms of a CMV. They generally include:
    • Bunk restraints;
    • Seat belts;
    • Door locks;
    • Fire extinguisher(s)
    • Warning devices, such as triangles, flares or cones.

With that, our three-part series on vehicle control systems comes to a successful close. We hope you’ve enjoyed this trip around the control systems of a CMV. Now you’ll be ready to go when the time comes to jump into the cab.

A Primer on the Commercial Driver’s License – Part II

Last year we took an initial look at what it takes to get your commercial driver’s license (CDL). In this installment we are going to dig a little deeper into certain aspects of the process. There’s a lot to know, so we want to help make sure you are well prepared.

Let’s dive right in.

The Commercial Learner’s Permit

Before you can obtain your CDL, you have to get a commercial learner’s permit (CLP). Your CLP will be issued to you by the state, just as your CDL will be.

When you are doing behind-the-wheel training, the CLP is as good as a CDL. You are clear to drive on public roads and highways with it.

You may also be required to take and pass other written tests if you plan on adding an endorsement to your CDL.

Additional requirements may include:

  • Certifying you are not subject to any disqualifying factors;
  • Providing proof of citizenship;
  • Completing the CDL/med card merger.

When a CLP holder is operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) they must be with a holder of a valid CDL at all times. Keep in mind that if you are getting an endorsement (tank, for instance), the CDL driver who accompanies your drive must hold the same endorsement.

The CDL holder must sit in the front passenger seat next to the truck driver and must directly supervise the CLP holder as they go about the business of driving the CMV.

A CLP is valid for 180 days, but can be renewed for another 180 days if it expires. A CLP holder is not eligible to go for his or her CDL test within the first 14 days of the issuing of the CLP. They want to make sure you know what you’re doing, after all!

CDL Classes

In order get your actual CDL, you will need to pass a driving or skills test. Your driving test will be in the vehicle you intend to operate. So if you want to run tractor-trailers that require a Class A CDL, you will need to be completing your skills training in a tractor-trailer.

Much like when you obtained your CLP, there will be various forms of paperwork and documentation you will have to provide in order to get your CDL. Consult your state’s CDL manual to find out what is required from your state’s licensing agency.

Federal regulations outline three distinct vehicles groups for the purposes of a CDL license. These groupings are referred to as Classes. For more details, they are covered under Sec. 383.91 of the FMCSRs.

They are as follows:

  • Class A – Combination Vehicle: Any combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight exceeds 26,001 pounds or more, provided the vehicle – or combination thereof – is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Class B – Heavy Straight Vehicle: Any single vehicle with has a gross combination weight rating in excess of 26,001 pounds, or any such vehicle towing another vehicle that itself is not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Class C – Small Vehicle: Any single vehicle or combination of vehicles that does not meet the requirements for either Class A or B, but is designed to transport 16 or more passengers or is used in the transportation of hazardous materials.


If you are intending on driving a CMV that necessitates an endorsement on your CDL, you will have to take additional tests and meet skill requirements.

If you plan on operating any of the following, you will need a special endorsement on your CDL:

  • Double or triple trailers (T);
  • Tank (N);
  • Hazardous material (X);
  • School bus (S);
  • Passenger(s) (P).

For the first three endorsements, you are required to take a written test. For the last two, you will be required to take a written and road/skills test in addition to the written test.

Are you looking to become a truck driver and are just now learning about getting your CDL? Join us next week when we did deeper into driver qualifications and what they should mean to you.